Hockey Hall of Fame member Dale Hawerchuk has passed away following a year-long battle with stomach cancer. On Tuesday, August 18, Eric Hawerchuk announced via Twitter the passing of his father in yet another emotional tweet.
“After an incredibly brave and difficult battle with cancer, our dad has passed away,” Eric tweeted. “My family is so proud of him and the way he fought. #HawerchukStrong”
In August of 2019, Hawerchuk was diagnosed with stomach cancer and took a leave of absence from his post behind the bench of the Ontario Hockey League’s Barrie Colts – a position he held for nine seasons (six of which garnered playoff appearances).
He finished chemotherapy treatments on his stomach cancer in Barrie, ON. in mid-April, before it was announced that his cancer had a resurgence in late-July. ‘Ducky’, who resiliently suited up for 75+ contests per season in each of his first 13 years in the NHL, passed away at the young age of 57, with family at his side.
Drafted 1st overall by Winnipeg in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft, Hawerchuk went on to score 45 goals and 103 points in his 1981-82 rookie season, earning the Calder Trophy as the first 18-year-old player to amass 100 points in an NHL season. He played nine seasons in Winnipeg (five of which he served as team captain) before a trade to Buffalo took him from the province of Manitoba.
Long remembered for his many moments of greatness alongside linemates Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux in the 1987 Canada Cup against the USSR, Hawerchuk’s achievements cover both NHL and international play.
He finished his 16-year NHL career with 518 goals and 1,409 points in 1,188 regular-season games between the Jets, the Buffalo Sabres, the St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers. He retired early due to a plaguing hip condition. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001 and shortly after began his work as a coach within Canadian Hockey League.
The original Winnipeg Jets all-time leading scorer Hawerchuk amassed 379 goals and 929 points in 713 regular-season games for Winnipeg and was inducted into the Jets Hall of Fame in late 2017. He was also a Calder Trophy winner, had six 100-point campaigns in the NHL, and won back-to-back Memorial Cups with the QMJHL’s Cornwall Royals.
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“The Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club, our players, our alumni, and our fans will miss Dale Hawerchuk dearly, and we will forever be inspired by his passion for the game, his commitment to his team, and his love for our community,” the Jets said in a statement Tuesday.
“Dale Hawerchuk put Winnipeg and the Jets on the map the day he arrived in our city in 1981, and his love for our community and remarkable Hall of Fame career will keep it there for many generations to come. Dale had a relationship with our fans unlike any player in the history of our franchise. Whether at home or on the world stage, “Ducky” was embraced by so many, so often because of his humility and the grace by which he always carried himself. Dale was quite simply one of the finest human beings we have ever known that also just happened to be a superstar.”
“The Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club, our players, our alumni, and our fans will miss him dearly, and we will forever be inspired by his passion for the game, his commitment to his team, and his love for our community.”
Much like the Jets, the Buffalo Sabres also issued a statement Tuesday afternoon, on the passing of the former Sabres forward.
“The Buffalo Sabres are saddened to hear of the tragic loss of one of the team’s all-time greats, Dale Hawerchuk,” the statement read. “As we mourn Dale, we reminisce on the wonderful memories he brought Sabres fans during his five seasons in Buffalo. We’d like to send our heartfelt condolences to Dale’s wife, Crystal, and the entire Hawerchuk family during this difficult time.”
Former teammate Teemu Selanne was able to speak with Hawerchuk on Monday, to which he said was one of the hardest things he has ever had to do.
“So sad.” Selanne tweeted. “What a incredible human being. I’m thankful that Ducky was my friend and I had a chance to talk with him yesterday and say goodbye. This world is not the same place without him, Eric you can be so proud of your dad. Thoughts, love and prayers for all your family. RIP DALE.”
Prior to puck drop of Tuesday afternoon’s First Round playoff matchup between the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers, those in attendance at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON. held a moment of silence for the five-time NHL all-star.
Since beginning his tenure as head coach in Barrie in 2010, Hawerchuk saw his team put up a 305-269-38 regular season record in the CHL – a 49.8 win percentage. With the Colts, Hawerchuk helped shape current NHL stars Mark Scheifele, Brendan Lemieux, Aaron Ekblad, Tanner Pearson, Andreas Athanasiou, Rasmus Andersson, Andrei Svechnikov and Kevin Labanc amongst many others.
In April of 2019, Hawerchuk signed a four-year contract extension, keeping him in the fold in Barrie through the 2022-23 OHL season. Last July Hawerchuk participated in his annual Dale Hawerchuk Charity Golf Classic – a celebrity tournament in which proceeds raised go to the True North Youth Foundation. Most recently, this past May, the city of Oshawa, ON. announced that Dale Hawerchuk Park would be erected for the spring of 2022.